Tuesday, July 31, 2007
The restaurant reminded me of Raffles Hotel Singapore, with its white paint and colonial decor. As usual, A was well-received by the staff who were polite and efficient.
Nightview of Hong Kong's skyline from Harbour City, Kowloon
I think HK has the most beautiful skyline in the world. It has the advantage of a seafront and can be viewed nearby from the Kowloon side, the buildings are each unique and outstanding, and the lights at night just awesome. It's worthwhile to go to HK during Christmas to see the lights, neon show (we did, at the turn of the millenuim) and the fireworks. Breathtaking.
My favorite building in HK is on the left, the Bank of China building. It just makes HK's skyline spectacular. The tallest building on the right is the International Finance Centre (IFC), which is currently the highest building in HK and, depending on your criteria (to include or not the antennae or roof top or other architectural details), IFC ranks about 5th tallest in the world. By year end Burj Dubai and HK's ICC building will knock IFC two ranks lower.
A great pic from Hub considering no tripod was used.
We started with a beautiful lobster bisque. It was just perfect in flavor, not too thin or thick, with chunks of sweet lobster. So good I was scraping the last drop. Mmmm.
Platter of chicken kebabs, deep-fried rice-paper rolls, prawn balls and some kind of terrine.
This starter had all the popular Vietnamese snacks and came with different kinds of dips, Thai basil and lettuce for you to wrap the goodies in.
Crispy chicken with namyue sauce
The skin of the chicken was crackling-crisp, the meat moist and tender and the namyue (fermented red bean curd) dip out of this world. Definitely what I'd order next time I eat there.
At least the bones looked it. Squares of the freshest flounder crumbed and deep-fried and served with a beautiful mayo dip that smoothened the fried taste.
Taiwan bok with bamboo pith and a crunchy kind of mushroom.
Perfect harmony of flavor and textures.
Vietnamese lamb curry with french bread
At this point, Yi sat back and gave up. We slogged on, hypnotised in a meal so well-ordered, cooked and presented. It was a delight, one after the other, as each dish was brought to our table.
The just-cooked beef was tender-smooth, beefy and 'sweet,' the noodles were smooth with a perfect bite, the soup again good to the last drop. Despite being stuffed dazed by now, I still managed two bowls of this as A had ordered two portions for the 5 of us.
Last but truly not least was this beautiful dessert. I am pleased with the way this pic turned out because the lighting was very dim and I just love the effect of the lines of the plate, radiating out around those sweet yummy gems of black sticky rice and red beans on pumpkin topped with coconut milk.
It was a dream meal (you don't dream about food??). I would never have enjoyed or appreciated HK the way I do now if not for H and A's hospitality towards me every time I visited.
Monday, July 30, 2007
Hairy crabs (back)
Hairy crabs are best in winter when they are at their fattest so I was surprised to see hairy crabs (hibernating in the fridge) for sale. The best ones are HK$240 (RM120/US$35) each!
Yi told me that some of her friends have never heard of Chinese ham (Jinghua ham is the best). It may surprise them that the Chinese were the first to make ham since pigs were first domesticated in China nearly 7000 years ago, well before these creatures appeared in Europe. Chinese hams are saltier, as they are usually used to flavor soups and stews rather than eaten in slices. Taste-wise, Chinese hams are more like prosciotto than, say, honey ham because the former are salted and air-dried while the latter are wet-cured in brine. Another cured meat the Shanghainese eat is the salty pork (xien rou), which basically is young or unaged ham and this is used in soups, giving them that umami taste and a yummy flavor. I love Chinese ham, esp. in soups.
In the foreground: tofu and eggs cooked in spices and soy sauce.
In the blue buckets are fresh rice sticks (see my post on Shanghainese rice sticks). Next to them is the preserved veg xuecai, a common ingredient in Shanghainese dishes.
L to R: fresh soy beans, broad beans and lily bulbs. That veg with the thick stem is very good julienned, salted and tossed with cooked oil and soy sauce. The leafy greens (shecai) on the upper right is something I like to bring home to MIL, to make Shanghainese wontons.
Remember the zhongs I made? Almost got the shape right.
Air-dried cured chicken, belly pork, fish and pork sausages. Don't mistaken the fish (bottom) for the regular salted fish. Called qingyue, it's completely different in flavor (fishy, sweet and salty) and texture (meaty instead of crumbly). It's usually steamed with spring onions, ginger and xiaoxin wine, then torn into small pieces and served as a starter, or stewed with fatty pork.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Shuang pi nai in three flavors: coffee, ginger and plain
Disappointing compared to what we ate in Guangzhou. I'd rather have tofufa (tofu custard). And what's the big deal about that piece of 'skin' on the top (see right bowl)?
(The next day we found that along this street were at least 5 other shuang pi nai restaurants. Did we go to the wrong one? My friend Cindy confirmed that Yee Shun is the one and I've googled it too. In doing that I've stumbled upon an interesting food blogger--'eating in translation' and added him to my list. Funny to see he'd already done that 'portugese egg tart against the ruins of St Paul' shot before Hub did.)
Hanging loose in front of Times Square
I don't why but I find Times Sq in Causeway Bay the least interesting place to shop. However, around it are lots of little shops if you have the time and can take the heat. If you were facing Times Sq, on the left and the back is Ho Hung Kee, the place for good wontons and other dishes:
Ho Hung Kee
Soup noodles with stewed beef
I was out-voted as the others insisted on trying this. Didn't want to eat a bowl of wonton noodles by myself because after this I was going to check out that famous mango dessert place.
Anyway, this was good but price is twice that of Tsim Jai Kee.
Congee in HK is like nasi lemak in Malaysia, a favorite breakfast food. I've always found HK congee too gummy but this time I liked it. In KK, the place for congee is the two shops in Foh San. Lately their congee just aren't upto standard. There's always lumps of cold rice/congee because the Malaysian restaurant way of cooking congee is just plain lazy and shoddy. Rice is cooked to a soft-rice stage and set aside until customers make an order. The congee is then re-cooked by adding water. The Cantonese/HK way is to start off with uncooked rice and water and cook all the way until the rice becomes a liquidy gruel. Apparently you cannot add water halfway because that'll spoil the smoothness and texture. Another thing is I always go away with my lips smacking of msg. But never in HK.
Yaw tew (you ja kwey)
Isn't it beautiful, these light golden yaw tew instead of the tough brown sticks we get in KK?
The others groaned but I insisted it's a mission that had to be accomplished. Despite feeling full, we crossed the street over to a shop in front of Times Sq for these:
Doesn't have an English signboard but this shop has been blogged about by just about every food blogger. I couldn't eat here the last trip because of a long queue.
Mango pudding with pomelo and mango ice-cream
This is thick, rich, scattered with chunks of mango and so yummy esp. on a hot day.
There's squid, fish balls, beef tripe and Chinese carrot
(lobak). I could eat all that myself!
We stumbled out, and Yi threatened to kill me if I mention "eat" again.
Friday, July 27, 2007
They decided that we must eat in this Cantonese restaurant that they eat in once a week. However, because I had given short notice, it may not be possible to get a table because bookings have a one-week wait! However, A is a person with clout so we got a table, although we kinda had to be discreet going in one by one because there were people seated outside the restaurant waiting before us.
Tai Wing Wah (Shop No. 2, Chevalier Comm. Ctr, 8 Wang Hoi Rd, Kowloon Bay, Kowloon. Tel: 00852 2148 7773) is a big restaurant, and on that Wed night it was fully packed. Yi noticed people eating a kind of cake in a bamboo steamer. That made my stomach churn out more acid, ready for a gastronomic frenzy. A gastronomic frenzy of the best Cantonese cooking I've tasted so far.
Steamed fish with with pickled lime
An unusual tangy-sweet-salty lime-flavored sauce over the fish--just too good to describe.
Roasted baby ribs
Sticky icky sweet and tasty pork ribs that are very tender too.
House tofu skin
Tofu skin, freshly-made in the restaurant, is a dish that is light yet tasty.
House fried prawns
This seemed more like a popular Shanghainese dish of prawns cooked in wine and soy sauce but I'm not too sure since Wing Wah is a Cantonese restaurant.
House fine hand-made noodles in superior soup
Noodles so good that they need only top them with blanched mustard greens. Nobody makes noodles this fine and tasty and with such a bite as Wing Wah. The noodles are made by the restaurant and dried before cooking. This makes them more crunchy than fresh noodles. For only HK$22, you can buy 8 nests of noodles packed nicely in a box. I brought some back and I won't share:)
House special chicken with ginger-green onion dip
Tender, huah (smooth), tasty, and flavorful. Wish I knew the recipe.
Mung bean noodles with crabmeat and eggs
Very subtle dish, kinda like fried rice with eggs. Every thread of noodles is coated with egg, making it creamy and eggy. I like it but Yi found it too plain.
A perfect dinner!
Malaigo (Malay cake)
Nobody (except me) bothered to eat the red beans soup, a complimentary dessert from the restaurant. All of us just pounced on this heavenly cake, so cotton-candy soft, moist and fragrant with eggs, butter perhaps? and some unrecognisible flavor. It is unlike the Chinese steamed sponge which is dry, heavy and tasteless. It just makes you marvel at how people can cook so well. Question: Why is it called malaigo when it is rare or non-existent here in Malaysia?
If you could have only one dinner in Hk and you are hankering for Cantonese food, this is the place. You'll thank me profusely for it. You should. Do make your booking early unless your name is A. Lui!
Note: Subject to confirmation, I remember A mentioning that the great thing about Wing Wah, other than the fantastic food, is the price. Every dish is HK$48 (MR25/US$7) which is what my mom would term "half-give half-buy"! In HK! One more thing. The next time I go to Tai Wing Wah, I'll not be waistline or cholesterol -conscious. I WILL eat a bowl of their famous steamed rice with lard and soya sauce. I bet Wey would eat at least 3 bowls of that.
Edit: I've since found out that this restaurant is an off-shoot of another, by the same name, in Yuen Long and their owner is no other than To To, that white-haired big-as=a-drum food connoissieur on TVB!
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Backdrop of HK's skyline and Star Ferry, taken from Harbour City
Two years ago we saw the singer Kenny B taking his son for a movie in IFC Building. We also spotted this starlet (dunno her name), also in Harbour City:
So much yummy food in HK--how do you stay so skinny?!
This year we saw:
Who are they?
The carrot cake must've weighed 10kg! When I got to the hotel, I was told I had spelt the birthday boy's name as 'Seng' instead of 'Sing' so they had the hotel chef wipe it off and piped out again--in full. Great cosmetic job, Chef!
I got all excited and confused (as usual) and didn't say what I wanted to say so here it is. Gal 5:22 says the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I am amazed to realise that Nam Sing, you are have all these qualities! Like Yoland said last night, you really are a diamond in the rough, because after 50 years, you now shine beautifully and I know it's because you have Jesus in your life. So, the character aspects aside, I wish you more joy, peace and love for all the years ahead. Go on shining beautifully for Him!
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
The crowd that had gathered in front of the bar.
All eyes on them. Yi's 15 seconds of fame.
After 30 min, Sammy was still nowhere to be seen so we left and walked to Soho, an area of western cafes and restaurants. It was a hot muggy night and the uphill trek (on long outdoor escalators) was very tough on 3 tired travellers. When we got to the top of the hill, there wasn't much going on so we took a taxi and went back to the Kowloon side. If you travel in groups of three or more, it works out cheaper by taxi but bear in mind that taxis charge double to cross either way after certain hours (11 pm?). And remember the subway closes after midnight.
Early next morning Hub, in his hunter/protector mood, set out to find us a decent room. He came back very excited as he had found the perfect place: new, clean, big and cheap (HK$480 for twinbeds room)! We tossed in our little beds and refused to believe him.
He was right. Juin Loong Hotel is new, located at the corner of Jordan and Temple Street (Juin Loong Hotel, Cyber Plaza, 239 Temple Street, Jordan, Kowloon Tel: 00852 3580 0379). It is a small hotel but I highly recommend it. We took the superior room (only HK$600 per night) with the see-through bathroom for the kinky girl in me, but it does have roller shades for fuddy duddies.
Around the hotel are many restaurants, and 'Men's Street' (Temple St) is just at the junction. This is where the stalls are set up from early evening to midnight and you can find imitation Hermes belts to power point pointers to the latest toys. The Jordan subway stop is nearby too.
Once settled, we went to Harbour City nearby to eat my favorite la mien in Crystal Jade La Mien Xiao Loong Bao. Crystal Jade is a Singaporean restaurant chain (surprise!) that specializes in hand-pulled noodles (la mien) and other Shanghainese treats. I've eaten at Crystal Jade in Singapore but found the HK ones much much better.
La mien with superior chicken soup
My favorite! The soup has been boiled for hours and there's a hint of Chinese ham and abalone. You can request for the noodles to be left uncut.
Hot and sour la mien
This was too gluey for me. I would've preferred the Sichuan la mien.
La mien with chicken and preserved veg
Hub and Yi's favorite. The soup was tasty, umami-sweet and flavorful but the noodles were too soft for me.
Drunken pork knuckles
My MIL makes drunken chicken frequently so we thought we'd try some pig skin and tendons instead...yummy and crunchy and the xiaoxin wine was GOOD!
Maodou, bayeh, xuecai (fresh soybeans, Shanghainese tofu skin and preserved veg)
Another dish we get to eat when MIL gets fresh soybeans. Love it.
Light, flaky pastry outside, soft with chopped spring onions inside. So simple yet so tasty. I hear it's good because of lard.
It was a heavy lunch so we had to forego the xiao loong bao. I'll try them next time. Make sure you don't miss this when you go to HK!